can you eat blue crab

Blue crabs are a delicacy that is often synonymous with Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay areas of Virginia. However, crabs can be found almost anywhere along the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States where there is coastal marsh land. This includes the Peace River in Punta Gorda Florida where Peace River Seafood is found. As I watched the owner shuck oysters, pop shrimp tails off, and pick meat from crabs that had just been caught that morning, it reminded me of doing the same things as a child. Unfortunately, not everyone has had the chance to eat fresh crabs as a child like I did. So, here’s a quick guide on how to eat blue crabs.

How to Prepare and Enjoy Delicious Blue Crab Like a Pro

As a seafood lover living on the East Coast, I’ve enjoyed many a summer feast featuring the incredible taste of blue crab. While this sweet, briny delicacy may seem intimidating to catch, cook and eat for newbies, it’s actually quite simple once you know the basics. In this complete guide, I’ll share insider tips on how to choose, cook, crack, pick and savor tasty blue crab so you can become a crab pro in no time!

What is Blue Crab?

  • Found along the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico.

  • Named for the blue tint of their claws and shell.

  • Shell turns bright orange when cooked.

  • Males tend to be meatier than females.

  • Delicate, sweet flavor compared to other crabs.

  • Season runs April/May through November depending on location.

Is Blue Crab Safe to Eat?

Absolutely! Blue crab is not only safe, but incredibly tasty and nutritious when prepared properly. Here are some key safety tips:

  • Only purchase live, active crabs – never dead.

  • Cook crabs thoroughly until shells turn orange – this kills bacteria.

  • Clean crabs by removing gills, organs and “mustard.”

  • Pick meat promptly after cooking and refrigerate.

  • Discard any crab meat that smells fishy or ammonia-like.

  • Reheat leftover crab meat thoroughly to 165°F.

How to Buy Blue Crabs

Follow these tips for choosing the best crabs:

  • Buy from a reputable local fish market when possible.

  • Select crabs that are heavy for their size with few missing legs/claws.

  • Look for crabs with glossy, vibrant shells, not dull or dirty.

  • Make sure crabs are actively moving and clinging to each other.

  • For maximum freshness, purchase same day as cooking.

  • Keep cool in a cooler or fridge until ready to cook.

Delicious Ways to Cook Blue Crab

Once you’ve selected prime crabs, you can cook them in various ways:

  • Steaming – Suspend crabs in a basket over boiling water. Preserves subtle flavor.

  • Boiling – Submerge crabs in seasoned water or crab boil. Allows seasonings to penetrate meat.

  • Grilling – Place crabs on grilling rack over hot fire. Adds irresistible smoky essence.

  • Baking – Arrange in a pan and bake at 350°F until shells turn orange.

  • Sautéing – Quickly cook crab pieces in butter or oil to use in dishes.

Regardless of technique, cook until shells turn vibrant orange or about 8-12 minutes. Now the fun part – eating!

How to Crack and Pick Crab Legs

Start your blue crab feast by cracking legs and claws to access the sweet meat:

  • Twist legs off body and crack shells with hands or mallet.

  • Use crab crackers or lobster picks to pull meat out of narrow spaces.

  • Carefully cut through claws with kitchen shears then crack with mallet.

  • Pluck out claw meat chunks with fingers or fork. Don’t discard tasty green crab mustard!

  • Look for prized lump backfin meat where legs connect to body.

Opening and Cleaning the Body

Here’s how to efficiently open the body and discard inedible parts:

  • Flip crab over and remove apron flap on underside to access meat.

  • Pry off top shell starting at sides then discard.

  • Pull out gills or “dead man’s fingers” on either side of body.

  • Scoop out internal organs in center of crab and any mustard, if desired.

  • Rinse or wipe clean the interior cavity.

  • Crack body in half for easier access to remaining meat.

Picking the Meat

Now for the best part – picking the sweet crab meat from the body:

  • Use your fingers and a seafood fork to carefully pick meat from chambers and crevices.

  • Try to retain chunks of lump meat rather than shredding.

  • Extract meat gently to avoid fragments of shell or cartilage.

  • Place picked meat pieces in a bowl as you work.

  • Don’t forget smaller bits of tasty meat in body core and leg joints.

  • Refrigerate fresh picked meat until ready to use in recipes.

Getting Every Last Bit of Meat

To maximize your crab meat yield:

  • Use a wooden crab mallet to gently crack claws, legs and body for more thorough picking.

  • After picking meat, break apart remaining shell pieces to uncover hidden morsels.

  • Rinse or soak shells in water briefly to remove clinging meat scraps.

  • Suck meat from legs, claws and knuckles you can’t easily crack.

  • Consider making stock from leftover shells and unused mustard.

Storing and Reheating Leftover Crab

To safely enjoy leftover crab:

  • Refrigerate fresh picked meat up to 2 days.

  • Freeze larger amounts for up to 3 months.

  • Store cooked crab in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags.

  • Add a bit of lemon or lime juice to help preserve color and flavor.

  • Reheat gently either on the stovetop or in the microwave.

  • Avoid overcooking reheated crab meat which can toughen it.

Blue Crab Recipes to Savor

Once you’ve perfected cooking and picking crabs, try using the sweet meat in these delicious recipes:

  • Classic crab cakes – sautéed patties combining crab with breadcrumbs, egg, spices and herbs.

  • Crab stuffed mushrooms – lump crabmeat baked in mushroom caps makes an easy, elegant appetizer.

  • Crab mac and cheese – a coastal twist on comfort food, mixing cheese sauce and tender pasta with crab.

  • Cold crab dip – blend together crab, cream cheese, sour cream, seasonings and serve with crackers or veggies.

  • Crab salad sandwiches – toss or fold together crab chunks, celery, onion and salad dressing on bread.

  • Crab soup – simmer crab meat gently in broth with potatoes, corn and seasoning for a hearty bisque.

The Final Crack

And there you have it – everything you need to know go from blue crab newbie to seasoned pro. With this handy guide under your belt, you’ll be ready to choose, cook, crack, pick and create spectacular crab dishes in no time. Just lay down some newspaper, roll up your sleeves and get cracking!

can you eat blue crab

Florida Blue Crabs are Delicious

While fundamentally, blue crabs are blue crabs there are important variations between crabs caught in one area vs another. Despite this, while they are separated by thousands of miles of coastline, Chesapeake Bay crabs and those from Charlotte Harbor in Florida are very similar. In fact, the owner of Peace River Seafood even shared that the crabbing industry there depends on demand from people seeking “Chesapeake crab” and so much of their product is actually shipped north rather than consumed in Florida. The crabs I enjoyed there though were big and beautifully colored with plump and easy to eat meat that was as sweet as anything Ive ever had from anywhere else.

What’s even better is that the blue crabs in the picture above were caught that morning and were still alive when they got to our table.

If you’ve never lived somewhere where blue crabs are typically served, it might be hard for you to figure out how to cook them. The good news is that the process is simple and easy to learn. If you are willing to try, you will be an expert in no time. People love Peace River Seafood’s “All You Can Eat” blue crab, which comes with their own seasoning that tastes like Old Bay but has bigger grains of salt. People in Florida have been enjoying blue crabs for a long time, but it’s only been in the last few years that this area has become known for its delicious blue crabs.

Are you ready to start picking crab? You’ll need the right gear, some time, and a hunger pang.

Step Three: Remove the Gills and Guts

Next, with the top shell gone, youll find the gills attached to both sides of the crabs body. Remove them along with the guts you find inside. After taking out the crab’s gills and guts, you can crack it all the way down the middle and start picking out the meat.

How to Pick and Eat Blue Crab | Southern Living Test Kitchen

How do you eat blue crab meat?

Eat them straight away with lemons and cold beer, or check out our favorite recipes for blue crab meat right here. 1. Turn the crab over so that its belly faces you. Using your fingers or the tip of a sharp knife, lift up its heart-shaped apron, or tail, and pull it back to snap it off of the body. 2.

Where can I buy blue crabs?

Blue crabs can be bought from crab houses or shacks if you’re not eating at a restaurant. You can also order them online if you’re not close to the sea. Crabs harvested in June through August are the most flavorful, and it’s recommended to buy six to eight crabs per person.

How many Maryland Blue Crabs can one person eat?

Six to eight Maryland Blue Crabs are recommended for one person when eating outside of a restaurant. If you’re not close to the sea, you can purchase crabs from crab houses or shacks or order them online.

Can you eat blue crabs at a family party?

Eating blue crab is a fun activity for a family party. Our guide will show you the best way to buy, store, cook, and eat fresh blue crabs.

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